First published 23 June 2020

Travelling the globe, giving back to his community and achieving incredible results within his double degree, recent QUT graduate and recipient of this year’s Tom Cain Trophy for Outstanding Achievement, Nicholas Di Savia, shares his journey and advice.

Representing QUT internationally more than six times, eighteen Dean’s List commendations, ten internships including one in Japan, a Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship, New Colombo Plan grant recipient, and ranking second in his graduating year out of 537 law students, Nicholas Di Savia’s achievements don’t end there.

Graduating from his Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Laws in 2019 and five months into his graduate position at Talbot Sayer, Nicholas reflects on his time at QUT and receiving the Tom Cain Trophy. “There is not a day at work where I have not been able to benefit from the skills gained through my experiences as a QUT student – both inside and outside the classroom.”

Tom Cain was the founding Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at QUT in 1977. The Tom Cain Trophy is presented each year and awarded to a Law graduate who demonstrates high achievement in extra-curricular activities during their course, and achieves honours greater than or equal to second class division A.

“I am honoured and humbled to have been recognised with the Tom Cain Trophy from the 2019 graduating class. Thinking back to the first week of my course, I remember attending a goal setting session and setting myself the ambitious targets of getting overseas and maybe cracking a dean’s list. What I have since been able to achieve throughout my course is truly beyond what I could have ever imagined. It is a testament to the support and opportunity available at QUT. I want to thank my amazing family and friends for their unwavering support – I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Nicholas never shied away from an opportunity, “I am most proud of my ability to give back and provide mentorship and assistance to the wider community. I have always sought to undertake opportunities to give back in targeted ways that I could leverage my own strengths to make a difference,” he said.

While at QUT, Nicholas was a Senior Student Ambassador sharing his insights into life as a student, hosting on-campus events, attending schools and regional expos and presenting to large groups. For four years he was also a mentor for other Vice-Chancellor Scholars and a note taker for students with disabilities.


From mentoring competition participants in Serbia, to competing himself in Singapore, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, France, and interning at Mitsui & Co. Ltd head office in Tokyo, one of the world's largest general trading companies, even Nick isn’t sure how he fit it all in.

“There are so many highlights but competing in Paris, at the International Finals of L'Oréal Brandstorm is one of them. Out of 25,000 participants from across the world, my team were one of 41 international finalists. It was an amazing experience,” he said.


At the International Finals of L'Oréal Brandstorm, Paris




Nicholas credits his drive and work ethic to his family, “My paternal grandparents migrated to Australia to work hard and chase opportunity in hope for a better life. My maternal grandfather also fought in the Australian Army.  Fortunate as a result, I refuse to sit back and let opportunity pass me by.”


With a strong interest in business strategy and the corporate world, Nicholas remains passionate about learning and experiencing as much as possible, “Being able to creatively apply my skills and make a difference wherever possible is incredible. My firm is giving me great hands-on exposure to a wide range of deals and corporate advisory matters.”

Nicholas after being admitted as a Lawyer, 2020

We asked Nicholas what his tips for students would be and he responded:

1. The ‘perfect’ student does not exist.

One of the first lessons we learn in law school is to take a problem, break it down into its elements, and apply precedent to satisfy them. In a stressful environment, where there’s always that other student in class who seems to know all the answers, and stories get passed down titled ‘the way to study’ or ‘the grades and extracurriculars you need to land that job’, many default to this lesson – pressuring themselves to satisfy the black-letter elements of a ‘perfect’ law student.  Instead, focus on doing the things that work for you, and taking up the opportunities you are genuinely interested in and can balance in your circumstances – you’ll get so much more out of it. Some of my study methods were pretty unconventional, and I never took up an opportunity for a reason other than it being what I wanted to do. 

2. Studying law is a team sport.

Law school can get pretty tough at times. Luckily, I learnt early in my degree that if I was struggling with a concept, or had some questions, chances are some of my peers were in the same boat. Working with friends allowed us to learn from each other, bounce around ideas, develop our collective understanding, and let us have a laugh while doing it – helping us overcome the psychological stresses of the challenges we faced. Never be afraid to reach out to your team.  

3. Nothing is impossible.

I truly believe that drive, coupled with a positive self-belief, is the key to succeeding at university.  No matter how impossible that assignment may feel, or how far out of reach that opportunity may seem – many who have been before you and succeeded most likely felt the same way. Give it your all, take your shot, and don’t give up – you’ll likely surprise yourself.